It has always been extraordinarily difficult for me to tell the difference between "allergy symptoms" and "infection." Regardless of the fact that neither experience is either more or less miserable than the other, the prospect of "allergy symptoms" always has the advantage of a higher comfort level associated with it. At least I know a change of scenery and a dose of Benadryl, and moments later I'll be good to go.
Not so in the lingering illness category. I distinctly recall an episode of the Mary Tyler Moore show from the 70's where Mary had caught a bad cold, and in between sitcom-style disasters, she described the cumulative cold experience as "three days coming, three days here, and three days going." This statement has colored my interpretation of the length of time one suffers from the nasty little microbes.
It also helps if you have a misery-topping condition in memory recall at times like these. I generally look back five years ago when I realized I had mono. I have no idea how long I actually had the virus before the announcement of a positive test result came back from my doctor. I do recall a rather odd sleeping pattern for a few weeks prior--namely, that I was sleeping every free moment I had. I chalked this up to depression due to the nature of my job (I was selling tickets to the museum--a monotonous task that required hours of visitors needlessly complicating the short, simple ticket selling process). One throat culture and one blood test later, and I faced the prospect of being off my feet for an awfully long time. You always hear about the sleeping problems associated with mono, but what they don't tell you is how ridiculously painful the initial throat swelling can be. One gland had increased to the size of an egg in my neck--you could literally see it--and I couldn't swallow anything without waiting until the peak period two hours after taking at least four advil. I usually float these memories through my head while I am waiting for those three Advil Cold and Sinus liquigels to take effect after a long night of congestion, coughing, and sinus pain.
My first interpretation of the latest bout of symptoms fell in the more relieving allergy category. I worked on Wednesday, and at the end of the day, my manager asked me to sew up a canvass bed that had just had the filling replaced. These "beds", of which there are many, are exposed to ship conditions and New England weather patterns year-round, nautrally resulting in extensive mold growth of all species and varieties. Although the filling, which is usually straw, gets replaced, the canvass rarely does, and at this point, fumigation would not irradicate more than half of the organism population living on and in the bedding. After sitting with the bed in my lap for about two hours, I certainly felt the incoming throat inflammation. I put the bed away at the end of the day, drove home, and arrived feeling very "disinterested" and tired--uh-oh. THOSE aren't part of the allergy experience. I woke up the next day, and I couldn't remain in blissful ignorance any longer. I had caught something, and I would be stuck with it for at least another few days. Brilliant.
Well, we have just passed day four of the virus' attack, having taken a day off from work to remain home--a day I didn't want to have to take at all.
The serious kicker in this is a short conversation I had with Tom, my coworker, last week. He had brought in a large bottle of hand sanitizer and placed it on a shelf over his space in the lounge, kindly offering me the use of the contents if I wished. I thought it was good preparation for the oncoming slaught of children in a few weeks, but at the present, a handful of groups and travelers were our only visitors. I also remembered the year I had two bouts with bronchitis within three months--and I thought "you haven't been ill in two winters, you'll be fine." Yeah, Tom, should have taken you up on that offer....